Thursday, March 3, 2011

Danish Pastries

Seriously. Don't even try making these if you are trying to watch your diet. Five minutes and 1500 calories after these come out of the oven, you won't be dieting anymore. They really are that good. Best served warm out of the oven or cold from the fridge the next day. Great for dessert, or for a special occasion breakfast!

Danish Pastries


Ingredients: 

Dough:
2 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour

Filling:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/3-2/3 cup sugar (use less sugar if using a sweetened jam or jelly, more for an unsweetened fresh berry or fruit)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
pinch of salt

1 cup jam or jelly OR 2 cups fresh or frozen berries
*If using frozen berries, let thaw and drain the juice before adding to the pastry.

Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
a few Tablespoons of milk - enough to bring it to the right consistency 

Optional:
1/4 cup sliced almonds for garnish

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, mix together sugar and warm water. Sprinkle yeast on top and proof for 5-10 minutes, or until the yeast becomes foamy.
2. Melt butter in the microwave in a small bowl. Mix in sour cream, and reheat if necessary until mixture is smooth. Add butter, sour cream, salt and egg to yeast mixture. Gradually add in flour. Knead a few times until just combined, do not over knead dough.
3. Cover, and refrigerate dough for 2 to 3 hours.
4. Before you begin rolling out the dough, beat the filling ingredients together until smooth.
5. After the dough has finished rising in the fridge, punch in down and dive into two pieces.
6. Roll each out into a 10 x 20-inch(ish) rectangle. Transfer to parchment paper and cut 1-inch slices along each side of the dough, about 1/3 of the way in. Cut off the last slice on each row. (Hopefully this picture makes it make more sense.) If you are not using parchment paper, transfer the pastry to a lightly greased baking sheet before filling - it will be very hard to move later!
7. Spread half of the filling on to each pastry.
8. Then, top with jam or fruit.
9. Next, braid the dough by first folding over the end piece, then alternate sides, folding at a slight angle.
Continue braiding until you reach the last two sections, then fold over the end piece.
Finish the braid...
Then tuck the loose pieces underneath.
10. Cover, and let the pastry rise for another hour.
11. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Transfer pastry and parchment paper to a baking sheet. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the pastry is a light golden brown.
12. Combine icing ingredients, using enough milk to bring it to a pourable consistency. Drizzle icing over pastry and garnish with almond slices.


I have tried blueberry, blackberry, raspberry and apple pastries so far. Blueberry has been my favorite, and I really didn't care for the apple. (I don't think the almond extract really complimented the tart apple. Maybe substituting for vanilla extract instead would make it better?) I have also used both frozen and fresh berries - both have turned out great!

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